First Nations Protocols

The Queensland Law Society acknowledges the First Nations people as the original inhabitants of Australia. We recognise, respect and celebrate the cultural distinctions of First Nations peoples and value their rich and positive contribution to not only Queensland but also to the broader Australian society. Hence, we understand the importance of recognising the Traditional Owners of Queensland. We encourage staff and members of the Queensland Law Society to participate in this process, and we provide the following protocols to assist you.

What is a Welcome to Country?

Protocols for welcoming visitors to country have been a part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years. There are up to 700 First Nations groups/clans recorded with distinct boundaries separating them across Australia. Permissions are required to enter and cross another group’s country. Hence, the Welcome to Country ceremony is a significant custom and gesture. It provides the visitor with safe passage, pays respect to, and follows the protocols and rules of the land owner group while on their Country. A Welcome to Country occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can take many forms including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech in traditional language or English.

Only a Traditional Owner of the land you are standing on can give a Welcome to Country. You will have to research and consult with the First Nations community to find an appropriate Elder or community representative to deliver a Welcome to Country.

What is an Acknowledgement of Country?

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for the wider community (First Nations and Non) to show respect for and acknowledge the Traditional Owners.

It is vital to acknowledge the First Nations people of the area on which you stand/ and or are having an event/ meeting etc. It is also advised to acknowledge Elders and community members. They are given at the beginning of an event before proceeding or commencing any meetings, gatherings, seminars, forums, conferences, board, council or working group meetings.

Anyone can deliver an Acknowledgement of Country. 

An example for Brisbane is:

General - I would like to acknowledge the First Nations people as the original inhabitants or as the Traditional Owners of the land we are on today. I acknowledge all Elders past and present and thank you for attending’.

Specific - ‘I would like to acknowledge the First Nations people as the original inhabitants or as the Traditional Owners of the land on which this meeting is taking place today i.e. Meeanjin (Mee-an-jin), Brisbane. I recognise the country north and south of the Brisbane River, as the home of both the Turrbul and Jagera nations. I pay deep respects to all Elders past and present and future.’

For assistance with context and wording, email